As I’ve mentioned a few times before, a lot of people believe that (to quote my former coworker Marc), “A hot dog is a hot dog.” I don’t concur, I’ve eaten enough hot dogs, from Sonoran Hot Dogs, to Chicago Dogs, to DC half-smokes, to New York papaya dogs, to Dodger dogs, that this clearly isn’t the case. It’s also important to note that it’s not just serving styles that vary, but also the dog itself. The Sabrett’s beef hot dog is what give those New York dogs their flavor. Similarly, a Chicago dog isn’t really right unless it’s a Vienna Beef dog hiding under all that stuff. And in the case of Connecticut, there’s quite a bit of variety hiding in this little state, with several regional butchers producing the hallmark style of that state: beef and pork blend, spiced similar to New York dog with lots of garlic and paprika notes. One of my favorite hot dogs is one of these from Hummel Bros. in New Haven, CT, making a good natural casing hot dog with a serious spiciness to it. And one of the best places to get a Hummel dog is Blackie’s in Cheshire, CT.
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
The last six months or so, the usually calm and stagnant Upper Valley restaurant scene has had a few changes. One of bigger segments changing is the pizza scene: since last summer, we’ve had two new pizzerias show up in town, Cantore’s Pizza in West Leb in Glen Road Plaza, and Ziggy’s Pizza in North Country Plaza further down 12A. I plan to review both of these places, but I’ll start with Cantore’s. Cantore’s opened late last summer, being run by local experienced restauranteurs John Kelley and Vinnie Cantore (by the way, if you were wondering… the owner of Cantore’s is the brother of Jim Cantore, Weather Channel meteorologist and former Upper Valley resident). And while the Upper Valley is literally chock-a-block with pizza places (most having “Village” or “Chef” in their names), Cantore’s is trying to set themselves apart by doing a New York style pizza, and trying to use a better selection of ingredients: better mozzarella, fresher toppings, etc…